Pontus Holmberg is on the way back up.
The Maple Leafs recalled the forward from the Toronto Marlies on Friday as winger Tyler Bertuzzi is dealing with a minor injury.
Holmberg, a sixth-round pick of the Leafs in 2018, performed well in his appearances with the Leafs last season, recording 13 points (five goals and eight assists) in 37 games.
Coach Sheldon Keefe also quickly appreciated Holmberg’s defensive skills and recognized early on that Holmberg had a future with the team.
In two games with the Marlies this season, Holmberg has one goal and one assist.
“I’m happy for him to get this opportunity,” Marlies coach John Gruden said after the team practiced at the Ford Performance Center on Friday. “He’s a 200-foot player, can play in all situations and you can rely on him.”
In a corresponding move, the Leafs loaned defenseman Simon Benoit to the Marlies.
The Leafs, who are scheduled to practice in Tampa on Friday afternoon, began a five-game trip on Thursday with a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. Only Mitch Marner was able to score on a power play in the second period against Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who finished the game with 29 saves.
Bertuzzi was a game-time decision against the Panthers and played just under 14 minutes. Bertuzzi was removed from the front row along with Auston Matthews and Marner when Keefe realized he was having trouble.
“Bert is less than 100% right now,” Keefe said after the game. “It was very clear: the pace of the game, the physicality, the competitiveness of the game and the difficulty of the matchups, whoever wanted to play with Auston and Mitch needed a lot, and I thought having Bert too would be beneficial “relieve him.”
When Keefe was asked if Bertuzzi might need a game or two off, he said it was possible.
“It’s something he’s been dealing with, we don’t think it’s too serious at this point, but even on the bench he tried to stay relaxed and make sure he could prepare for his next shift,” Keefe said . “That wasn’t a good sign for me.”
The Leafs and Lightning meet Saturday for the first time since Toronto eliminated Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Toronto has lost its last two games after winning the first two, while Tampa is 2-2-1 and was coming off a home win against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.